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Jason Bloomberg

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Has Agile Outlived Its Usefulness?

In the fifteen years since seventeen software developers met at a Utah resort and hammered out the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, Agile methodologies for building software have become the predominant approach worldwide. Yet, while there is broad agreement that Agile improves the chances of successful software initiatives as compared to the deeply flawed waterfall approach, Agile still faces many challenges, even after so many years.

Fifteen years is a long time in IT, after all. Technology refreshes occur typically once every three years. Given the increasingly rapid pace of change – not only in the software world, but across today’s increasingly software-driven business environment – perhaps we should move on. Is it finally time to kill Agile?

acrobat 260w, 50w, 640w" sizes="(max-width: 417px) 100vw, 417px" />Problems with Agile Continue to Pile Up

Even though the lightweight, iterative roots of Agile go back well into the 1950s, the 2001 creation of the Agile Manifesto (as it’s come to be called) has become a watershed moment for the approach, defining its four core values and a dozen principles for driving the creation of better software.

In and of itself, however, Agile has never been a methodology. Rather, methodologies like Scrum and Extreme Programming rose to the fore, espousing the principles of Agile. Today, Scrum in particular has achieved a remarkable level of adoption.

Nevertheless, the problems and limitations of Scrum and the broader Agile movement have proven surprisingly persistent, in spite of the throngs of very smart people who have worked in various capacities with Agile over the years.

The numerous complaints about Agile include its lack of focus on software architecture, its emphasis on one-off software projects as opposed to building reusable code, and the reinforcement of the notion that the software development team is a self-contained group, as opposed to participants in a broader collaborative effort.

Perhaps the greatest concern over Agile, however, is the ambiguity of Agile’s principles themselves. Agile calls for self-organizing teams, but there remains no clear understanding of how best to self-organize. Agile also calls for the stakeholder or customer to be an active part of the team – but stakeholders have always resisted this participation, and when they do join the Agile team, they struggle with their role.

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Intellyx advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, Chef Software and Photon are Intellyx customers. None of the other organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers.

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Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.

Mr. Bloomberg’s articles in Forbes are often viewed by more than 100,000 readers. During his career, he has published over 1,200 articles (over 200 for Forbes alone), spoken at over 400 conferences and webinars, and he has been quoted in the press and blogosphere over 2,000 times.

Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books: The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013), Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (Wiley, 2006), XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

At SOA-focused industry analyst firm ZapThink from 2001 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011.

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting), and several software and web development positions.